lessons learned on the way to a 10km PB

the training schedule said “18km long slow run”, unfortunately i’d seen the advert for a 10km fun run.

decisions, decisions. i knew i had to stick with the training plan, but i so badly wanted to try my hand at a 10km again.

in the back of my mind i wanted to have another crack at the 1 hour barrier….

my facebook running buddies came to the rescue

do the 10km and an additional 8km run, before or after.

because i had it in mind to break 60 minutes, i opted for a 10km run at full 10km pace, and then an 8km “recovery run”.

crazy thinking!

so i entered the “ASICS Run For Gold” 10km fun run, and had yet another race day to look forward to – yay!

i kept quiet about the plan to aim for a personal best, right up until the last minute…

and soon it was race day

i don’t know when it happened, but somewhere along the line i have fallen in love with race/event day. the atmosphere, the build-up, the excitement, the portaloos…

i think an event helps give you something specific to aim for. it somehow adds something that you just don’t get running the same distance on your local streets.

whatever it is, i love it and plan to enter more and more events over the coming years.

so you can expect more of this sort of thing – the now “obligatory” race kit photo!


the event itself was awesome

the start time was a relatively late 8am, so i had a bit of a lie-in until 5am, got myself a spot of brekkie (bowl of cereal, toast & orange juice) leaving a good 2 to 3 hours before the start.

i kept myself well hydrated, sipping water right up until 1 hour before the start time – not sure where i picked that tip up from, but it’s served me well in all the events to date. by not drinking in that final hour, i haven’t had any issues of needing a loo break while out on the course.

having left the house early, i got to the wa marathon club about an hour before the race, and managed to secure a free parking spot nearby.

i hung around for a bit, listening to music then, with about 20 minutes to go before the start, i did something that i haven’t done before. i went off for a 10 minute warm-up run!

i got the idea from my “race pace” and tempo runs that i’ve been doing in training – those runs always have a 10 minute warm-up, so muscles etc. are nicely prepared for hitting the required pace.

i figured that it made sense.

the clock counted down, i got the garmin ready

satellite signal was located, and i was ready for the race to start.

as per my usual practice, i started off fairly close to the back, pressing ‘start’ on the watch when i thought i passed the official start line.

the watch was set to show current pace. that’s all i was interested in. i was going to hold 6:00 or thereabouts the whole way round, and then put in a strong finish to take me below the 60 minutes.

in reality i battled to keep the pace slower than 5:45. race day excitement was in danger of kicking in once more. i fought furiously and won. the pace came down.

the pace was held reasonably well for kilometre after kilometre, to be honest, i felt as though i was too comfortable, as if the watch was wrong and i would be winding up with a poor time.

but i was overtaking people.

it didn’t make sense. i felt strong. i felt as though i was doing closer to 7:00 per km. yet i was making slow progress up through the field.

it felt weird.

it all went perfectly for 7km

i focused on 1km at a time, nothing more. the time was bang on target at 5km, it felt brilliant!

somewhere between 6km and 7km it did start to feel a lot harder, and then a long slow climb up canning highway made kilometre number 8 very hard work indeed,

by the time i got to the 8km mark, my legs had been sapped a little, but i reminded myself that i’d had another gel not long before, and i WAS going to do this hour thing.

the final 2km required effort. lots of effort. mental toughness and a willingness to just keep on. just keep that pace slightly faster than 6:00 per km and slowly increase speed.

in my training runs lately i have been focused on steady splits and a strong finish.  today was NOT going to be different.

i picked up the pace, slowly but surely.

mental arithmetic told me that the watch might show just over an hour by the time i crossed the line. but it didn’t matter, it would still be a personal best.

keep going. dig in. finish strong.

5 seconds of fame. sort of

i pushed hard as i entered the channel to the finish line. started to stride out. almost a sprint.

i heard the announcer call my number. then i heard my name – that was VERY VERY COOL.

then as i crossed the line, i pressed ‘stop’ on the watch, and heard the announcer say “…. just after the hour mark”.

dammit. the gantry clock had said 1 hour 20. the garmin said 1 hour 25 (or thereabouts).

so close to breaking the hour mark. but a personal best regardless!

i was over the moon.

but as i checked the watch, it dawned on me. the watch was showing MORE than 10km – when i checked the average pace it told me:

5 minutes 58 seconds per km.

officially my time was 1:00:18.

unofficially i had achieved a sub-60 10k!!!!!!

absolutely and totally over the flipping moon!

recovery and post-run analysis

having taken a few minutes to catch my breath and replenish the water bottle, i set off for a gentle 8km recovery run to take the total for the morning up to the scheduled 18km.

it was relatively uneventful, though i did use music for the first time since the marathon.

i was pleasantly surprised that i managed the 8km in 1 hour 6 minutes – a little over my current base “easy” pace of 8 minutes per km.

and that’s when i started to wonder at how the first 6 or 7km had felt relatively “easy” and the recovery run had gone so well. these are my conclusions:

  • the fuel and hydration strategy was good, practicing that has paid off
  • an additional 6 weeks of training since the last 10km fun run has really paid off
  • intervals and tempo runs have had a bigger impact than i previously gave credit for
  • my control of pace has paid off – particularly in conjunction with building a habit of slowly increasing speed, and having a strong finish

in a nutshell, regular and consistent training, combined with practicing ALL elements of a race (fuel, hydration, pre-run brekkie and pace control) took things up another notch.

and do you know what? i am no longer a plodder with no regards for detail.

i set goals, plan strategy and dig under the surface.

i am a runner.


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